Letter from AYHL President Gene Palecco

On behalf of the AMHL and its operating divisions, the Atlantic Youth Hockey League (AYHL) and the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (MET League), we want to provide clarity and answers to questions being expressed by several member clubs and parents of current and prospective players. The questions center on recently formed leagues and teams, some of which will not or won’t be allowed to register with USA Hockey and the possible confusion it is creating during this tryout period.

First, we want to reinforce for you what the AMHL is and what we are committed to doing for our players and their development. We have an exceptional track record that spans nearly 50 years. We have developed literally thousands of hockey players who have advanced to NCAA College Hockey and the NHL, and every level in between.

The AYHL has been is existence since the inception of Tier I AAA hockey in the United States. The AYHL was a driving force in creating the Tier I National model, which was designed to provide a high level of training and competition for skilled youth hockey players. The MET League is the longest operating Junior League in the country, founded by the NY Rangers in 1966. It has been a vital development program for many NHL careers, including Mike Richter, Brian & Joe Mullen, Mark Eaton, John Carlson and many others. As for NCAA College commitments, there are thousands of players that have used the Met League as a springboard to college hockey.

What you need to know about some of the newly formed leagues is just that; they are new. They haven’t proven that their members are even capable of functioning cooperatively in a league environment; most are being required to pay expensive franchise fees, making costs needlessly higher for the player. Also, the extensive travel implications appear to be without careful consideration.

Most importantly, some of these leagues and programs will be operating teams outside of the scope and authority of USA Hockey, meaning they cannot or will not register with USA Hockey. This certainly has raised many questions about adequate insurance coverage, but it also has raised concerns about how these teams and leagues will have no boundaries regarding roster size and the potential to manipulate those rosters. It has been reported that some teams plan to carry 30 to 40 players and while this certainly adds more money to their bottom line, it will diminish the player’s experience. The USA Hockey roster rules, as well as its Insurance Program, are in place for the benefit and protection of the player and his/her development.

The AMHL and its member clubs are deeply committed to our collective brands, and to true Tier I “AAA” and Junior hockey and all that USA Hockey requires. We are engaging with all of the appropriate stakeholders, including USA Hockey, United States Olympic Committee, and the National Hockey League, and if necessary, the court system, to express our collective concerns about these leagues and programs, which have demonstrated an outright refusal to work within the framework of USA Hockey. The complete disregard for rules and general decorum that is expected in youth sports is alarming, and will be addressed.

For any club within the Atlantic District, only those that participate in the AYHL for the 2013-14 season shall be eligible to compete towards the USA Hockey National Championships. Tier I Independent is not eligible for Nationals within the Atlantic District for the 2013-14 Season.

Being a Tier I “AAA” or Junior League is more than just claiming it as some type of entitlement. It’s not about the ability to collect costly franchises fees; it’s not about adding clubs that have zero experience in Tier I “AAA” or Junior hockey. It is about standards, following rules, cost-effectiveness, and honest player assessment. Our League and its members, along with our track record of success and experience, have made a lifelong commitment to USA Hockey, even when we didn’t always agree, all in the name of player development. We stayed the course because of you, and our commitment to your development as a hockey player and as a person. This fact is undeniable.

There has never been anything quite like the AMHL and while some have tried to replicate it, no league has ever come close to our level of success, for our players, coaches, officials, teams and clubs. We have collectively stayed the course for nearly 50 years, with USA Hockey, to provide a highly competitive elite player development experience. So for all of your uncertainty, anxiety, unanswered questions and we know there are many, there is only one logical choice for your development as a hockey player; the AMHL and its member organizations.

We will keep you posted as new information becomes available. We wish you all success during the upcoming AYHL and MET League Tryouts.